Column: FOX, MLB drop ball in snubbing Gwynn for Jeter

In their haste to honor Derek Jeter, FOX and MLB turned their backs on Tony Gwynn. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


That’s the question the programming executives at FOX Sports and Major League Baseball should have been asking themselves as they concluded coverage of the 2014 All- Star Game Tuesday night. How was it that, in an evening that was basically a gift- wrapped homage to Derek Jeter, they entirely forgot Tony Gwynn, the legend of the game who passed away just 29 days prior?

Over the course of the fawning broadcast, those keeping count had Jeter’s name mentioned exactly 100 times. In fact, Deadspin compiled a video of all 100 name-drops.

Meanwhile, how much attention did Gwynn get? Zero.

Sure, there was a brief tribute on Fox Sports One, the channel nobody was watching because it wasn’t airing the All-Star Game. For the game itself — which makes no secret of its identity as a popularity contest and a showcase for the game’s stars — to ignore one of the brightest to ever grace it is unfathomable.

Gwynn needs no support for his cause, but here’s some just for the record: He won more Silver Sluggers (seven to five), batted for a higher career average (.338 to .311) and a much higher OPS+ (132 to 116), and even appeared in, yes, more All- Star Games (15 to 14) than Jeter.

But Gwynn really made his mark by the way he gave back to baseball. When he passed away, I wrote about his impact on the game outside the lines during his career and as a coach after it. However many Tony Gwynn tributes are done, there will not be enough to to justice to the positive mark he left on the world.

Two players selected to the game offered the FOX booth the chance to talk about Gwynn unprompted — San Diego Padres closer Huston Street was sporting Gwynn’s number 19 on a patch on his jersey sleeve, though he never appeared in the game.

And Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones started and played five innings in center field, batting twice. Jones had inscribed TG19 in the lower left corner of the front panel of his hat as a tribute, a gesture that was not once mentioned.

I sincerely hope this was just a ghastly oversight, and not an intended programming strategy on the part of both FOX and Major League Baseball. I cringe at the possibility that there was actual thought behind giving the living player from New York 100 percent of the attention and the dead one from San Diego none.

Whether intentional or accidental, perhaps this is the sign that we really need to stop with the season-long farewell tributes. So much has effort has been dumped into the pomp and circumstance of Jeter’s six-month sendoff: gifts at every ballpark, full-blown commercials, up-to-the-minute GIFs.

All the while, nobody could bother to breathe a word about one of the greatest players, and people, to ever grace the game of baseball, much less the sideshow that the All-Star Game has become.

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